09 August 2018

Basic Concepts: "Love and Respect for One's Fellow Jew"

28 Menachem Av 5778
Yom Kippur Katan

[This excerpt is long, but it is a very important concept to understand, especially since it has been so misunderstood by so many for so long. Therefore, my plan is not to post anything that supercedes it until the first of the new week (and new month). So, please, accept my sincerest wishes now for a peaceful Shabbat and a good new month.]

Or Hara'ayon, Chapter Ten: "Love and Respect for One's Fellow Jew," pp.222-226...

G-d made us swear a great oath to love and respect our fellow Jew like ourselves, as it says. "Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the L-rd" (Lev. 19:18). Commenting on this command, R. Shimon ben Elazar said (Avot DeRabbi Natan 16:5):

     "This involves a great oath. G-d said, "I am the L-rd Who created him. If you love him, I am sure to reward you handsomely. Otherwise, I am a judge to punish you."

Nonetheless, although we must love every Jew, this does not apply to one who has brazenly rebelled against the Torah. First we find (Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim 8:4):

     "The stranger who sojourns with you shall be unto you like the native among you. You shall love him as yourself" (Lev. 19:34): Israel were told to love as themselves not only the native-born Jew [in v. 18], but the convert as well [in v. 34].

Here we have explicit proof that "Love your neighbor as yourself" applies only to love of Jews. Likewise, Avot DeRabbi Natan teaches (Ibid.):

     To what extent is hatred forbidden? One should not say "Love scholars but hate students, love students but hate ignoramuses." One must love everyone, hating only heretics, inciters to heresy, and informers. As King David said (Ps. 139:21-22), "O L-rd, do I not hate those who hate You? Do I not strive with those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred. I count them among my enemies."

     Does it not say, "Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the L-rd" [i.e., how can one hate these when it says we must love our neighbor]? The answer is that G-d said, "I am the L-rd Who created him." If he conducts himself in the way required of our people, you must love him. Otherwise you must not.

Our sages further said (Sifri, Re'eh 89):

     "If your brother incites you.... Do not accept him or listen to him. Have no pity on him.... You shall surely kill him" (Deut. 13:7,9-10): Since it says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," I might think one should love this person, too. It therefore says, "Do not accept him."

Even if the inciter's life is in danger, one is forbidden to save him, as Sifri teaches (Ibid.):

     Since it says, "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Lev. 19:16), I might think one is forbidden to stand by when [the inciter's] life is in danger. It therefore says (Deut. 13:9), "Have no pity on him."

Likewise, R. Nachman bar Yitzchak said that it is "permissible to hate" the insolent (Ta'anit 7b), and Rashi commented, "Even though it says, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Rambam writes (Hilchot De'ot 6:3):

     It is a mitzvah for every Jew to love every other Jew like his own self.... Therefore a person must praise his fellow Jew and be careful with his property the same way he is careful with his own property and desires to be treated respectfully. Whoever seeks honor through his neighbor's shame has no portion in the World-to-Come.

Sefer HaChinuch writes (Mitzvah 243 [219]), "It is a mitzvah to love every Jew deeply," and Hagahot Maimoniyot (Rambam Ibid., letter 1) teaches:

    We specifically must love the Jew who shares our commitment to Torah and mitzvot. As for the evildoer who does not accept rebuke, it is a mitzvah to hate him: It says, "Fearing the L-rd means hating evil" (Prov. 8:13); and, "O L-rd, do I not hate those who hate You?" (Ps. 139:21)

[See Pesachim 113b]

The respect one is obligated to give his worthy fellow Jew likewise stems from the mitzvah of loving him. Our sages said (Eliyahu Rabbah 28):

     So said G-d to Israel: "My children! Have I failed to give you anything? What do I ask of you? Only that you love, respect and revere one another, and that you avoid all sin, theft and unseemly behavior."

Our sages also said (Avot 2:10), "Let your friend's honor be as dear to you as your own." Clearly, this is part of "loving your neighbor as yourself" (as is also clear from Rambam quoted above).

We also learn (Bereishit Rabbah 24:7):

     Ben Azzai said, "'This is the book of the generations of Adam [In the image of G-d He made him]' (Gen 5:1) is a major principle of the Torah." R. Akiva said, " 'Love your neighbor as yourself' is a major principle of the Torah. Do not say, 'Since I was ridiculed or cursed, let my neighbor suffer the same.'"

     R. Tanchuma said, "If you do speak that way, be aware that you are ridiculing one made 'in G-d's image' (Gen. 5:1)."

The Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 9:4) has the following version:

     R. Akiva said, "'Love your neighbor as yourself' is a major Torah principle." Ben Azzai said, "'This is the book of the generations of Adam' is even more major."

(The same appears in Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim, Ch. 4)

Clearly, the Jerusalem Talmud's point is not, as the distorters would have it, that the mitzvah of loving everyone, including the gentile, is greater than that of just loving one's fellow Jew. Were this the case, how could Ramban and Sefer HaChinuch have restricted "Love your neighbor" to love of our fellow Jew?

Rather the source means as follows: There are two reasons why G-d commanded every Jew to love and respect his fellow Jew. The first is that every Jew was created in G-d's image, hence if a person hates or ridicules his fellow Jew, it is as though he hates or ridicules G-d. R. Yehoshua ben Levi said (Devarim Rabbah 4:4):

     A contingent of angels walks before a person and criers proclaim, "Make way for the image of G-d! Observe how many guards guard over you! When? When you guard over the Torah."

The second reason is that all Israel constitute one lofty portion chosen from mankind to be G-d's unique and holy nation. Being this way, they were marked by G-d for special affection. They alone are called "adam," because they took the place of Adam, the first man, as standard-bearers of G-d's mission here on earth. Since all Israel constitute "adam," and were created in G-d's image and chosen to be His firstborn, it is a special mitzvah to love every Jew, assuming he shares our commitment to mitzvot and to serving G-d.

Surely man's having been created in G-d's image is the most important factor here. Whoever was created in the image of the King bears on his person the glory of the King Himself. Whoever ridicules him is ridiculing G-d, as it were, and who would dare to do such a thing? Nonetheless, there is no need here for a positive act of love and respect. All that is required is a prohibition against degrading, cursing or otherwise harming anyone created in G-d's image, as long as he has not become an enemy of G-d.

Nonetheless, from the moment Israel was born as G-d's holy elect, the mitzvah of loving and respecting every single Jew was born as well. Every Jew, besides having been created in G-d's image, was also chosen to be part of G-d's special people.

It follows that there are three types of human beings, and each must be related to differently.

The first is the Jew who shares our commitment to mitzvot. It is he we are required to love and respect via G-d's command to "love your neighbor."

The second is the non-Jew who was created in G-d's image, yet who is not dear and special to G-d and not classed as "adam." After all, Adam's mission in the world passed on to Israel. Although we are forbidden to hate or denigrate such a non-Jew as long as he does not become an enemy of G-d and as long as he keeps the seven Noahide laws, there is no mitzvah to love and respect him.

The third is the person, even a Jew, who becomes an enemy of the Jewish People. It is permissible, and even a mitzvah, to hate and degrade him.

All the same, as long as a Jew remains on good terms with G-d, His mitzvot and His teachings, it is a supreme mitzvah to love and respect him with all our heart and to make great sacrifices for his sake in order to save him and help him....


  1. What about kiruv? You can't do that with hatred

    1. You can only do kiruv with people who are looking for Hashem. You can't do kiruv with people who are fighting with Hashem and hurting His children.

  2. With that lesson fresh in my mind, out of love for my fellow Jews in Sederot, Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and all the other suffering communities along the Gaza perimeter, I have just one thing to say to the top leadership of the government and the IDF: "YOU SORRY BUNCH OF LOSERS!"

    1. I can't stand to listen to them...
      Israeli official: 'Hamas suffered a severe blow'
      Are they still breathing? Then the blow was not severe enough!
      Israeli official: Hamas has been hit hard
      Obviously not hard enough to stop the rockets! As long as Jews are still running from their homes and cowering in shelters, they haven't been hit hard enough!

      "Resilience Centers" have been opened to help people cope with the emotional stress of flying rockets and sirens. What the people really need is the DEFEAT OF OUR ENEMIES!!


    2. Southern Command: 'We are prepared for every scenario'

      Every scenario accept fighting to win! Sickening!

  3. I remember when Olmert said, he's tired of winning. Couldn't believe my ears. Well, he was just stating what they all had in mind and slowly but surely, they are using that strategy and it is now evident their strategy to not fight the real enemies, but easier and more beneficial for their long range goals to fight their own citizens, the righteous Jews of Israel.
    In reality, if they cared and wanted, they could beat these pere adam in a couple of hours and be done with it.